Jamie claims first Bathurst pole

DEFENDING champion Jamie Whincup has put his rivals on notice, claiming pole position for Sunday’s Bathurst 1000.

The Holden driver took out the top-10 shoot-out leading Mark Winterbottom and Jason Bright with a time of 2.07.8825 – the only driver to go sub eight seconds.

“There’s a lot of superstition around starting first but I’d prefer to be first than second so we didn’t mess around in the top-10 shoot-out and just showed the true performance of the VF Commodore,” said Whincup, who partners with Paul Dumbrell for tomorrow’s race.

“Our starting position doesn’t count so much tomorrow, it all really depends on weather. If it gets really hot it’s going to be a bit of a lottery for everyone. Set-up wise, we have a lack of adjustment on the new cars, so we’ll just have to take a bit of a guess and hope for the best. But we’ve got a fast car.”

Five-time Bathurst champion Craig Lowndes will start sixth on the grid tomorrow for his 20th start on the mountain. The Red Bull Racing Australia driver, partnered with Warren Luff, will also have a milestone 500th start in the ATCC/V8 Supercars Championship series.

“It doesn’t really matter where we start, as long as we’re in the top 10,” Lowndes said.

“It’s a long race and we all know that anything can happen on this mountain as long as you stay out of trouble. I can’t wait to get started tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, two-time MotoGP champion Casey Stoner finished his race weekend with a smile on his face despite coming off second best in a clash with the Forrest Elbow cement wall.

Having qualified ninth in his first attempt at the mountain, Stoner slayed the field with some impressive driving to put himself in fourth inside eight laps. All over the tail of veteran driver Jack Perkins, Stoner looked all-but certain to snare a podium position after a safety car restart, only to clip a wall while in hot pursuit on the top of the mountain.

“It was a lot of fun and the car was fantastic,” Stoner said.

“We had a lot more to show there but unfortunately I probably went into that corner a little too gingerly and it cost me.”

Stoner’s next race in the Dunlop Development Series will be December’s Sydney 500 curtain raiser.

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